The European Commission has called on EU member states to take in 40,000 asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea who land in Italy and Greece over the next two years.
Germany, France and Spain would receive the most migrants under the Commission’s latest plan.
The idea of using quotas to resettle those who have made it to Europe has caused controversy in some EU states.
The UK government says that it will not take part in such a system.
France, Spain, Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia have also all voiced concerns, and a final decision will be taken by EU governments after a vote by MEPs.
Denmark has the right to opt out of the plan while Ireland and the UK can decide whether they wish to opt in.
The UN has called on Europe to do more to help migrants
The plan applies to Syrian and Eritrean nationals who arrive in Italy or Greece after 15 April 2015. The Commission said it could also apply to Malta if it also faced a sudden influx of migrants.
This is in addition to moves announced earlier this month by the EU for a voluntary scheme to settle 20,000 refugees fleeing conflict who are currently living outside the EU.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the home affairs commissioner, said it was not proposing “the fixing of quotas… for migration in general” and but it was “up to each member to decide how many refugees they will grant refugee status [to]”.
“We only propose – and we insist on that – a fair distribution of a concrete number of migrants in clear need of international protection across the European Union,” he said.
Countries would receive €6,000 (£4,250) for every person relocated on their territory under the latest proposal, the commission said.
More than 1,800 migrants have died in the Mediterranean in 2015 – a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.
Some 60,000 people have already tried to make the perilous crossing this year, the UN estimates.